The coronavirus crisis intensified the challenges many faced before the pandemic, but the challenges also spurred several initiatives that helped bring the community together.
Perhaps most encouraging, many of those humanitarian efforts stemmed from the future of the Santa Clarita Valley — nonprofit drives, charitable groups and organizing that’s continuing into the new year.
Groceries for all
At Six Feet Supplies, for example, which started at the end of March 2020 as the SCV was nearly a week into the statewide “Stay-at-Home” order. Under a lockdown that ordered people to limit their outings and avoid gathering with people not of one’s household to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a group of local high school students decided they wanted to deliver groceries to those in need.
In its early days, Six Feet Supplies, which works by placing online orders, was delivering about 30 orders in the SCV. To date, volunteers have delivered more than $40,000 worth of groceries to more than 400 people and have expanded services to areas including West Los Angeles and the San Fernando, San Bernardino, and San Gabriel valleys, according to Valencia High School student Zoe Monterola, who partnered with West Ranch High School student Eric Luo to create the zero-cost grocery delivery service.
“It was a lot about being proactive and building that repertoire and relationships to get the word out,” she said. “It was definitely about starting with a really good mission and values, which they still are: safety and doing honest and good work. We always strive to do our best.”
For Monterola, hearing back from those that placed orders and what receiving their groceries meant for them was “really touching” and served as “fuel behind the fire.”
“One story that stands out is of a mom and her husband who had just delivered a new baby and they were home and they didn’t have any groceries so they contacted us and they were so grateful,” she said. “There was also an elderly couple whose son emailed us and expressed how thankful he was because his parents were just so scared of going out. There was a woman, too, who was so grateful that she said if we wanted, we could pick oranges from her front yard.”
“We definitely don’t ask for money because we do this to help other people but a woman gave a $50 tip for delivering to her grandfather who was a little bit further out of SCV and she was so grateful that I think she cried on the phone with the person who delivered groceries,” she added.
Monterola is preparing for college but said she and others are working to find younger peers who will continue running operations.
To learn more, visit sixfeetsupplies.com.
Supporting the homeless
The youth from various local schools have also stepped up to support the SCV homeless population by providing meals, clothing and essential items.
Among them is Hart High School senior Isabella Sandoval, who started “Hart for the Homeless,” a school club formed last year that has exclusively helped Bridge to Home.
“I was watching the news and it was talking about the homeless population in L.A. County, which I found really interesting,” said Sandoval. “So, I started thinking about the local level in Santa Clarita and how a 17-year-old like me can make a change and from there I started the research process.”
Through collaborations with members of the community, Hart for Homeless, with an estimated 25 members and volunteers, has provided hundreds of donations to the nonprofit organization and its clients, such as toothbrushes, blankets, shampoo and laundry detergent.
For Sandoval and the volunteers, dropping off the items at the shelter has been the most rewarding.
“Seeing the reactions of clients, like, ‘What is that and what are the things that are coming in’ and seeing how genuinely happy they were to see people taking the time out of their day to help, I think, really made the experience worth it and it was just the cherry on top.”
The students’ initiative is setting examples for many, said Randi Wyatt, volunteer coordinator at Bridge to Home.
“Their efforts really create a great impact. I think it’s great that young people want to get involved and by reaching out they’re creating a greater sense of community,” she said. “The feedback is great because when the youth groups drop off items all you can hear (from clients) is, ‘That’s so cool,’ and ‘Did you see the kids?’”
Hart for Homeless is planning to continue donation drives and in February, members are expecting to drop off Valentine’s Day cards to the homeless, according to Sandoval.
For information on how to help Bridge to Home, visit btohome.org.
Neighbors helping neighbors
With students behind these initiatives moving into college sometime this year or the next, five Valencia High School students behind Supply Neighbor wanted to create a service that would essentially run on its own as they become more occupied with their studies.
Based on zip codes, Supply Neighbor allows people within a neighborhood to request needed items, such as face masks, groceries and hand sanitizers, or to offer supplies for their neighbors in need.
Since its launch last spring, an estimated 8,000 members have signed up and actively request or offer supplies, according to student senior Nicholas Moy, project coordinator and co-founder.
“We’ve been growing our user base and we have reached out to our families who live in other states. We’ve been starting up in those states as well,” he said, adding that “because the website is meant to be self-sustaining, we will keep it up and running.”
To learn more, visit supplyneighbor.com/home.php.